New book assures gay Christians
Koz St. Christopher has been on a journey many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians can easily identify with. As a devout Catholic, who was disappointed to discover in her youth that she was the wrong sex to become a priest, she wanted to find a place to call home spiritually.
“I was searching for a religion that was more Christian,” she recalls, “one that really lived up to what the word Christians stands for. I never did find one.”
And neither do many GLBT Christians who are kicked out of their homes and their churches because they are told they can’t be GLBT and Christian … but they continue to seek. Koz and her partner Victoria M. St. Christopher are hoping their new book, No Exceptions! A Gay Christian’s Guide [Creative Works Publishing, 2001], can help others who are searching for that spiritual home.
The book is concise, coming in at around 70 pages, and attempts to lay out a simple path from rejection to reconciliation.
The first chapter, “No Exceptions!” is a close look at John 3:16 where Jesus utters the famous words, “whoever believes” shall have “eternal life.”
“John didn’t quote Jesus as saying God sent the Son to earth only for white Anglo Saxon people, or only thin people, or only straight people. John heard Jesus say ‘whoever,’ in the whole world, everyone, any person, no matter what person.”
Our acceptance as that “whoever” does turn on the notion of belief in Jesus as savoir, Victoria and Koz stress in the rest of the chapter, but note that if we believe we are not condemned.
As many GLBT Christians have discovered, however, just quoting the words of Jesus to those who condemn us doesn’t end the argument and more often than not is only the starting place. Victoria and Koz answer those concerns in chapter two, “Jesus Always Told the Truth.” Here, we find many examples of Jesus telling his listeners that he was telling them the truth in whatever teaching or saying he was passing along.
“If you believe what Jesus said is the truth and then you tell me I can’t be a Christian then you’re calling Jesus a liar,” Victoria concludes.
Chapter three is dedicated to a close examination of the condemnation of gays in Leviticus, a passage so often quoted by those who would deny that we can be GLBT and Christian. The biblical arguments are not new and are reinforced from sources like Daniel Helmeniak and Walter Wink. The biblical defense is not meant to be comprehensive, Victoria says, since there are many other books out there now that cover the topic in-depth. Instead, this is just enough information to begin to spark questions in the reader, and to instill a desire to do further research into what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality.
“I wanted it to be a simple guide,” Victoria emphasizes. “Just enough to give people some information to reassure them. If they want more information there’s referral material in the back of the book.”
With the biblical question lightly touched on and deferred for further individual study, the book progresses into two chapters aimed at helping GLBT Christians grow spiritually. Morality is a topic that is emphasized.
“If we go around bed hopping then we’re just as bad as straight Christians who do,” Victoria explains. “There are rules set down in the Bible about morality and we need to follow those as gay Christians.”
The book gives many examples from the Bible about how we are to live our lives as Christians including The Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and, of course, the “golden rule” from Luke 6:31.
“It says to do to others what you want others to do to you, or treat others the way we wish to be treated. Pretty simple yet most of us don’t get it or don’t live by it. If all Christians lived by this rule alone, the world would be a much better place.”
The final chapter focuses on the popular question, “What Would Jesus Do?” The simple answer is that Jesus never backed down from his beliefs. As GLBT Christians we cannot afford to back down either. But, Victoria stresses, not backing down does not mean putting up our fists and fighting those who condemn us.
“Many want us to argue so they can say we’re not Christ-like. If we don’t argue but take a stand and stick to our guns and tell them that we’re just believing what Jesus said. We can show them the verses where Jesus said, ‘Whosoever.'”
Overall, the book is a handy introduction to why it is possible to be GLBT and remain a Christian. The arguments are solid and the writing easy to understand for those just beginning to grapple with this dilemma as well as those already well versed on the issue.
Koz and Victoria have a simple goal for this book.
“If one person doesn’t turn away from God or turns back to God because of the book then it was worth writing,” says Koz. “If we can help one person believe that they can be loved by God no matter what anyone says to them then the book is a success.”
Founder of Motley Mystic and the Jubilee! Circle interfaith spiritual community In Columbia, S.C., Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, she earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is also a musician and animal lover.